STOCKTON — When the “Stockton Scholars” initiative was unveiled nearly two months ago, the plan was to begin awarding college scholarship money to all qualified Stockton Unified seniors beginning with the class of 2019.

Friday, Stockton Scholars announced it is speeding up its rollout to allow a handful of graduating seniors from the current school year to benefit from the program.

Dubbed the “Roses From Concrete Scholarship,” honoring the words of the late rapper Tupac Shakur, the new program will be open to qualifying 2018 graduating seniors at all public high schools and public charter schools in Stockton.

Twenty 2018 graduating seniors who qualify and complete an application will receive one-time $1,000 scholarships to be used for attending accredited colleges or trade schools. Visit bit.ly/rosesfromconcreteapplication to apply.

Qualifying applicants will have lived in Stockton and attended Stockton public school for the past four years; they will be planning to pursue a degree at a regionally accredited college, university or trade school; and their high school grade-point average will be 2.0 or higher.

According to a news release, students should not be dissuaded if their GPA isn’t “perfect.” Students, though, must have shown growth during their high school years.

“We’re looking in particular to support students who have achieved their goals despite formidable challenges,” the announcement said.

Stockton Scholars was launched with a $20 million donation from the Los Angeles-based California Community Foundation in January. Beginning with the class of 2019, all qualified SUSD students attending a four-year college will receive $1,000 a year, a total of $4,000. Students attending San Joaquin Delta College or another community college or a regionally accredited trade school will receive $500 per year, a total of $1,000 over two years.

In addition to the 20 scholarships that will be awarded to 2018 graduates, Stockton Scholars announced Friday a “Principals’ Challenge.”

This program, which will come with an award of up to $50,000, will fund “innovative and bold ideas that help prepare students for postsecondary education or the workforce,” the announcement says, adding, “While our challenge is designed with high schools in mind, all Stockton school principals are encouraged to participate."

Applicants for the Principals Challenge are asked to visit bit.ly/principalschallenge2018 to download the application form. The deadline to apply for the Roses From Concrete Scholarship or the Principals’ Challenge is 11:59 p.m. on April 15.

"While we prepare to extend the full Stockton Scholars grant to all Stockton Unified seniors next year, we're incredibly excited to launch these two citywide initiatives this spring,” said Lange Luntao, executive director of the Reinvent Stockton Foundation. “We know that there are thousands of resilient students and hard-working educators throughout our city, and we're thrilled to celebrate their work to expand pathways to higher education."